Elect Michelle Santamaria To The District 6 Commission Seat

The race for the District 6 seat on the Palm Beach County Commission features three candidates, all with unique attributes. The Democratic nominee is Melissa McKinlay, who has worked numerous governmental posts and is currently with Palm Beach County’s legislative affairs office. The Republican nominee is local businessman Andrew Schaller, who has made a name for himself as a frequent critic of the Palm Beach County Commission. Also in the race is independent candidate Michelle Santamaria, an attorney and businesswoman running to build on the corruption-fighting legacy of her father, County Commissioner Jess Santamaria, who is vacating the post due to term limits.

As we pointed out during the primary election, Melissa McKinlay has an impressive resume that spans many levels of government: local, county, state and national. She also has a reasonable command of the issues and a strong network of supporters. Some of those supporters are concerning, however, as they include a number of West Palm Beach officials who have long stood in the way of projects crucial to the needs of residents here in the western communities. McKinlay’s dedication toward protecting women, children and the disadvantaged, especially through her volunteer work, is admirable and heartfelt. Her focus on bringing county help to the Glades, communities that have been historically underfunded and overlooked, is a definite issue that whoever wins the seat will have to tackle. While she has deep connections in county and state government, her connections to the western communities are not nearly as firmly rooted.

Andrew Schaller is a business owner who runs a successful electronic banking firm and a horse farm. He has long been a critic of county government, starting with issues near his home and branching out into fiscal policy, road issues and even how meetings are run. He has famously had numerous run-ins with the incumbent, Jess Santamaria. Suffice it say, they’re not friends. Schaller’s understanding of the issues, the key players and county government is strong. His business experience clearly shows he can manage money. However, his political experience is limited beyond being known as a frequent county government gadfly.

With a law degree and a master’s degree in business administration, Michelle Santamaria has extensive legal and business expertise, a proven track record of accomplishing goals and an innovative, thinking-outside-the-box attitude. With personal access to the outgoing commissioner, she is ahead of the game in learning the dynamics that emerge behind closed doors. With a unique outlook, she has placed careful emphasis on her stances, differentiating herself from her father. For example, while her father ran for office as a Democrat, she stuck to her principles and is running as an independent, rather than under the safety and support of a political party. While this puts her at a disadvantage, it has allowed her to seek the seat not beholden to special interests, racking up a varied collection of supporters from across the political spectrum. Santamaria’s educational background makes her particularly good at analyzing tough issues. She is independent, yet with enough finesse and natural public speaking skills to be able to get others to be willing to hear and evaluate what she has to say.

In reality, the most surprising thing about this race is how narrow the field has been. A number of high-powered, current elected officials stayed on the sidelines, leaving the field open to three candidates who have never held elected office. However, it’s not often in today’s hyper-partisan atmosphere that voters have a chance to choose an independent-thinking, highly skilled candidate who isn’t controlled by a political party, yet still has a chance to win. In this year’s county commission race, that candidate is Michelle Santamaria. In this limited field of candidates, she is clearly the best choice.

The Town-Crier endorses independent candidate Michelle Santamaria for Palm Beach County Commission in District 6.

Midterm elections always feature lower turnout than presidential election years. That is too bad. Democracy functions best when more people vote. No matter whether your opinions on this race differ from ours, be sure to get to the polls — either through early voting or on election day — and make your voice heard.


  1. So let’s get this straight, daddy in office = a vote? What has daddy’s daughter done to earn my vote? She doesn’t live here, (oh sorry, she changed her address to our district recently) she doesn’t work here, she’s not volunteered for any boards in the western communities. Has anyone paid attention to her mailer? It was laughable. No one has endorsed her and the only thing going for her is that Jess takes out full page ads in the TC for her. Yippee. Either of the other two candidates are better prepared and more motivated to do this job. This does not need to be kept “all in the family”. This position is earned and McKinlay has run a great campaign that has not been negative. Those of you indicating that candidates guide the PAC’s should educate yourself, the only PAC being guided is the one Santamaria funds. Santamaria JR is not what we need, we need a fresh voice, someone who is raising a family,and has been involved in the process since inception.

  2. I would like to address some of the lies stated in these comments:

    1. I have not sent out any mailers from my campaign demeaning Michelle. I cannot control what other people are doing, however. There is no question she is an educated woman. So am I. I have a dual degree in Political Science & Sociology with minors in Mathematics & Economics from Florida State University. I have also taken graduate classes in Public Administration, Legal Research & Writing courses at Tulane, graphic design courses at Ringling School of Art & Design and several leadership training courses over the years.

    2. I moved my family to Wellington in 2004 and currently live in Royal Palm Beach. I have never lived in the City of West Palm Beach. Furthermore, I am not a puppet of Mayor Muoio nor am I the puppet of anyone. The Mayor knows I support SR7 and still supports me. Please remember that there is a good sized portion of the City of West Palm Beach in District 6 and those citizens also deserve representation.

    3. My opponent inaccurately describes my personal finances. I do not live on $8000/month. Yes, I have a successful former husband and he is good to his children as he should be. But the dollar amount quoted by Andy is much higher than what we live on. And, regardless, anyone who has ever been married and sadly divorced with children knows that divorce settlements do not reflect the hardships one goes through to get there nor the challenges of single parenting aside from finances. Furthermore, there is no millionnaire boyfriend. I have an amazing group of men & women supporting me because they believe I am the best person for the job.

    4. True, I do not have any elected office experience. None of us do. But, you are incorrect about a lack of leadership experience or experience appropriate to the position I am seeking. For twenty years, I have given back to the community through a multitude of charitable and advocacy organizations in which I have risen to leadership positions in each one including Board Chair and President of several. I have worked at the federal, state and local level doing advocacy, grantwriting, capital budgeting, human resources, and extensive legislative work. I have dedicated my entire professional life to serving others.

    I am an award winning advocate. A professional woman with a 20yr record of service. And I am a proud mother of three great kids who chose this community to raise them in – the only candidate in this race raising children in our community and public schools.

    And the only candidate with over 60 endorsements from our national, state and local leaders, our public safety officials, and our business community – the Democratic candidate with tremendous bipartisan support.

    It is time for a change. A fresh voice. And an end to the lies posted by “anonymous” commenters’ lies above.

    Thank you,
    Melissa McKinlay

    • Let me respond to Ms. McKinlay who is parcing her remarks with half truths:
      1. Hate mail has been sent by your supporters, in this case the PAC of Jeff Clemens. The hate mail piece against Mr Schaller from the Realtors PAC in Orlando (shame on them). If you are saying that you do not know what your campaign is doing then you are saying that you do not have the skills to manage as a Commissioner.
      2. You are the puppet of the group that is setting you up to do their bidding, the unions, the chambers, the lobbyists, and the Senator who is bullying supporters from Tallahassee to Palm Beach County that unless they do as he says their legislation fails. Did you say Ringling Brothers Circus? Hm that’s probably rite.
      3. Your monthly combined income of salary and child is $8000.00 – source, public records
      4. You do not have 20 years of relevant governing experience. If you believe socialite volunteering qualifies there are many more community dedicated people than you to be Commissioner.

      Ms. McKinlay you are a packaged up deal of no substance. The residents of District 6 run honest campaigns and frankly my dear we are tired of your smere tactics that were tried out on Kathy Foster and now our residents of Michele Santamaria and Andy Schaller.

      A Voter of District 6

      • I’ll respond to Martha….
        1. Candidates are not allowed to be involved in PACs. Are you saying that the other candidates are directing the PACs supporting them? Could be a problem….
        2. McKinlay has worked to get support across the board including unions, business leaders, local elected officials and those from outside the district. Looks like unanimous support.
        3. Not current/accurate. Try the Financial Disclosure…public records
        4. Socialite Volunteering?? Nice try. You obviously are a hack for Schaller. Going to BOCC meetings is about 10% of knowing what it takes to do the job. And Santamaria??…not worth a comment and glaringly under qualified.

        Luckily all of this is almost over and the only truly qualified candidate can finally begin doing the work that will benefit all the residents of D-6. Vote for McKinlay.

        • Writer for McKinlay – Seems you think you know what you don’t know but that is not my name and I do not know who it is, but you seem to have a thin skin about it. Again, not qualified for office. Facts are facts you just thought that only a few knew – not the case. If I were you I would be campaigning and complaining.

      • As i sit here and read all of these comments it is pretty obvious that some people are just plain ignorant. Although I commend each individual for defending their choice I don’t understand why one would think that it is OK to attack someones marital status. If Ms. McKinlay is receiving child support for her children, that’s a good thing as there is now one less dead beat dad in the world that us as taxpayers don’t have to contribute to with food stamps etc. Who cares how much she gets, whatever it is, in my opinion, it comes nowhere close to how much any single parent is worth. So whoever made this comment is either not a single parent and has no clue of the time, effort and or worries that goes with being a single parent,or is a disgruntled father who is having to pay support. And by having a well to do ex-husband or a assumed wealthy boyfriend, well even they could not contribute more than the law dictates as lawful.
        If being qualified is being daddy’s little do girl…. I’ll pass or if that was not enough to sway me away from her, teaching classes to PBSO deputies on how to testify in a court of law just proves she is not a totally honest person because everyone knows that a deputy is supposed to just tell the truth and there is reason that our tax dollars should have gone to her to teach what our deputies should have learned as children. No deputy should have to be taught to tell the truth and the facts as they happened.
        Our other candidate, well I guess we all know that Coke most be endorsing him since he made is ridiculous video using broken coke bottles. Or maybe coke does not even know that they were used as a prop in an immature and embarrassing video, hmmm.
        As a District 6 voter and NO ties to any party but by merely opening my eyes and listening, Not only did I form MY OWN OPINION but I voted for Melissa McKinlay as I do feel that she gets it. She is the fresh beginning that Wellington needs and deserves. So go ahead and bash my opinion, it only proves that the people that endorse puppets and armature video stars are just as uneducated and qualified as the people they want in office.

  3. Pretty sad, when District 6 candidate Melissa McKinlay mails out fliers demeaning Michelle Santamaria’s college education (3 degrees) and McKinlaym herself, never has achieved a college degree.

  4. McKinlay will do whatever Mayor Muoio of WPB wants. McKinlay lived in the WPB. Her loyalties lies there, not here in the western communities.

    And what is story of McKinlay telling a judge she couldn’t serve on a jury because of an attorney intimidating her?

    When the western communities start electing people who move to our area, district 6, just to qualify for an office, we’re in trouble! We will never get what we need. We will have to do bow down to WPB and what they want.

    • “When the western communities start electing people who move to our area, district 6, just to qualify for an office, we’re in trouble!”

      Pretty sure Santamaria still has her condo at Prado downtown. Pretty sure she changed her address to a townhome in the District just days before registering.

  5. your editorial criticizes Schaller’s lack of political experience, and then you back Santamaria? What is her political experience? Yes, she is a strong smart independent female, but what is her political experience?

  6. She will be as bad as her father if not worse.

    He was ineffective.

    I’ve decided to go with McKinley. She is the most qualified and has the demeanor and connections to get things done for us.

    • In what way is McKinlay qualified? No governing experience, no leadership experience, no business experience, and doesn’t live in the District. Hmmm must be that whinning about a poor divorced mother living on 8000.00/mo with a former husband making $175K and a Tallahassee boyfriend worth $17M – could that be why she got all the $$$$$ backing. Yes she will be the YES person for big business and the mouth piece for the ruin of District 6. My vote just cancelled yours. I voted for Schaller – Experience, Leadership, Business success & lives in the District.

  7. this is certainly not a full throated endorsement of Santamaria. as for her father who was a republican switch to democrat to win the election and is endorsing and independent candidate. why didn’t his daughter run as a Democrat?

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